Pentagon officials are still trying to figure out how the U.S. defense bureaucracy must change to account for the fact that potential adversaries can easily and inexpensively arm themselves with commercial technology.
The technology need not be sophisticated to be effective, as recent operations have shown. In the case of improvised explosive devices, violent extremists used cell phones, garage door openers and other devices to serve as crude triggers.
The amount of effort the IED threat has sparked at DOD, monetarily and organizationally, has been astounding. Many officials have described the fight as a true poster child for "asymmetric warfare" -- the kind of conflict defense leaders believe is here to stay.
In recent years, officials have kicked around several suggestions for how to react. The discussion has centered around two essential questions: Does DOD need one organization in charge of rapidly fielding asymmetric countermeasures, or does it need many?
Opponents of the consolidation option fear the gains in fielding speed generated by one organization in charge could quickly evaporate as that organization grows in size and bureaucratic overhead.
Those advocating a centralized rapid-fielding shop argue the current multitude of offices, initiatives and programs produces too much overlap and misses out on potential synergies.
A new Defense Science Board report could provide ammunition for those favoring a single organization in charge. As we reported yesterday, the document proposes a Rapid Acquisition and Fielding Agency (RAFA), whose three-star director would report directly to the Pentagon acquisition chief.
The idea, and even the acronym, may sound familiar to our readers. In a separate DSB study, published in the spring and titled "Capability Surprise," panel members called for a Rapid Capability Fielding Office, or RCFO, with similar goals.
University of Maryland Professor Jacques Gansler, a former DOD acquisition chief and frequent Pentagon consultant, was task force chairman for the DSB study released this week. He was a member of the "Institutional Process Change" working group during the panel's study of capability surprise, as we noted in February.
-- Sebastian Sprenger